Perino whitewashes Bush drilling regulation failuresResponding to Democrats who have cited the Bush administration while discussing problems currently facing the U.S., including the Gulf oil spill, Dana Perino stated on Fox News, "They know that that is not true," and challenged them to "name one regulatory piece that was repealed during the Bush administration that led to this or that." However, the federal offshore drilling regulator under the Bush administration relaxed regulatory standards and was plagued by ethics scandals
. She's wrong....
MMS 2007 environmental impact assessment for BP lease dismissed risk of massive oil spill. The Washington Post reported on May 5: "While the MMS assessed the environmental impact of drilling in the central and western Gulf of Mexico on three occasions in 2007 -- including a specific evaluation of BP's Lease 206 at Deepwater Horizon -- in each case it played down the prospect of a major blowout." The Post stated that "In one assessment, the agency estimated that 'a large oil spill' from a platform would not exceed a total of 1,500 barrels and that a 'deepwater spill,' occurring 'offshore of the inner Continental shelf,' would not reach the coast. In another assessment, it defined the most likely large spill as totaling 4,600 barrels and forecast that it would largely dissipate within 10 days and would be unlikely to make landfall." According to the Times-Picayune, these assessments "paved the way for BP to assert that its plans for drilling in Lease Sale 206 posed no real dangers":
Before the lease of the oilfields in 2008, the MMS wrote a generic Environmental Impact Statement for the entire northern and western Gulf of Mexico that made the catastrophic well blowout that happened April 20 seem like a near impossibility.
MMS produced its blanket Environmental Impact Statement for 11 proposed leases, mostly off the Louisiana and Texas coasts. One of those planned sales was Lease Sale 206, which gave BP the right to drill at what is known as Mississippi Canyon 252 with a Transocean oil rig called Deepwater Horizon.
The MMS assessed everything from the possible impact of noise on marine life to the specific vulnerabilities of sea turtles and sturgeon, but through it all, the agency assumed any oil that might be spilled would be minimal and any leak would be quickly shut off.
The document states that small oil spills and leaks from pipelines and ships are relatively common and have little effect on the environment. In fact, thousands of natural seeps in the sea floor combine to pump much more oil into the Gulf of Mexico each year than the current manmade leak has produced, but they are spread all over the sea in amounts that quickly dissipate, according to the study.
When it comes to the type of oil well blowout that happened April 20, MMS was downright dismissive. The agency determined that fewer than six of every 10,000 wells would have a blowout that caused any oil to spill. Blowouts are "rare events of short duration," the study stated, and "the infrequent subsurface blowout that may occur on the Gulf OCS (Outer Continental Shelf) would have a negligible effect on commercial fishing."
That paved the way for BP to assert that its plans for drilling in Lease Sale 206 posed no real dangers.